Is the stress related illness known as Asthma a problem for you? Watch the following video to learn more about some of the latest research in addressing the Asthma crisis.
Let’s start with a description of this annoying stress related illness. Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways. It comes in all shapes and sizes and can cause all types of reactions ranging from shortness of breath to tightness in the chest to extreme coughing and wheezing. The symptoms of this stress related illness, such as coughing, can be so bad that a person can actually break a rib from it.
An asthma attack happens when the muscles around the bronchial tubes tighten, causing the airways to get thinner. This restricts breathing. Then mucus is produced within the bronchial tubes, further restricting airflow. For some people, the problems from this stress related illness are ongoing, hovering in the background all the time and for others, it’s very sudden and can be life-threatening.
Attacks happen for many different reasons. Some allergies can trigger an attack. Some people have problems after exercising too hard and others only get attacks when they catch a flu bug. Some asthmatics have many triggers. This particular stress related illness can be extremely challenging for many people. Without the proper stress management tools, asthma can really get out of control.
OK, so let’s move on to some statistics regarding this stress related illness. There are 300 million cases of asthma worldwide at the current time and 250,000 deaths each year from asthma. Don’t let the seemingly low death rate fool you, though, as there are 11 million asthma attacks every year in the US and 4 million of those happen to children.
If you want to know why the line-ups in emergency rooms are so long, just look to asthma. In the US, there are 500,000 hospitalizations, 217,000 emergency room visits and 10.5 million doctors office visits all related to asthma, each year.
Asthmatic children lose 12.8 million school days in a year and asthmatic adults lose 10.1 million workdays. The really scary statistic, though, is that 80% of asthma deaths could be prevented with simple asthma education.
Asthma is very manageable and attacks are easily preventable just by removing common triggers like pets, smoking and mold.
So, what’s the takeaway, here? The reality of this stress related illness in society today is that it’s time to rethink our attitudes towards asthma education and triggers, so asthmatics can all breathe easier. If we aren’t willing to do that, then we must give asthmatics more tools to use to fight the disease.
As with any stress related illness or disease, as time goes on, doctors learn more and more about the condition and what can be done about it. In early 1970s, doctors believed that the underlying cause of asthma attacks was a bronchospasm. Circular muscles surrounding the airway tubes would go into spasm and narrow the passageways of the lungs, restricting breathing.
Logically, pharmaceutical companies responded with a product called a broncodilator, which was aimed at widening the passageway to allow more air to pass through. Products such as Salbutimol became common and asthmatics began carrying around the blue puffers.
Then, doctors thought that asthma might be a chronic inflammatory response. The airway would swell and become inflamed in response to a trigger and it was this inflammation that caused the bronchospasm.
To respond to this problem, pharmaceutical companies came up with anti-inflammatory drugs such as steroids to help take down the inflammation in the airways of asthmatics.
Over the last 10 years or so, doctors have become aware of the fact that the underlying cause of this stress related illness and most chronic lung diseases is something called oxidative stress from free radicals. Unfortunately, there is no real pharmaceutical treatment for oxidative stress. Instead, we must treat oxidative stress with antioxidants.
Another good solution is all about lifestyle change. Since Asthma is considered to be one of the inflammatory diseases and inflammation is now believed to be a kind of secret killer, drug companies are working overtime to develop products capable of reversing the damage from inflammation, but it seems far wiser to prevent the inflammation in the first place.
Inflammation is actually a good thing - a survival mechanism for when you are injured. The body inflames the tissues surrounding the damaged area to protect it from further harm. In order to create inflammation in the body we need the pro-inflammatory Omega 6 Fatty Acids.
Excessive or prolonged inflammation is bad, however, and once the threat of further injury is gone, the body must get rid of the excess inflammation. For this, we need the anti-inflammatory Omega 3 Fatty Acids. In many cases, stress related illness is made much worse by inflammation.
Unfortunately, the North American diet is way out of balance. Some sources say, the body requires about 1 Omega 6 to every 1 Omega 3. Other sources say the body can handle a ratio of 2:1, but, just like the problem with metabolic syndrome and diabetes and the way we constantly spike our blood sugar, our bad habits tend to outpace our body’s ability to deal with the damage. The average North American diet, with all its deep fried foods and red meats, offers a ratio of about 40:1. Can you say “Inflammation City?”
Your body has all the tools it needs to create inflammation and lots of it, but then the body looks around for the tools to get rid of all of this excess inflammation and it can’t find what it needs. The inflammation just stays and stays and creates more free radicals, which leads to more oxidative stress. That oxidative stress does the most damage on weakest part of the body, which, for asthmatics, is the lungs.
Asthmatics must reduce the inflammation that already exists, with Omega 3’s, and stop causing more damage, by avoiding Omega 6’s. As with any chronic disease, to get well, Asthmatics must fix the damage done and then prevent further damage.
Of course, we know that antioxidants can help address the free radical damage that led to the stress related illness. Your depleted body needs many antioxidant-rich nutrients to partner up with those unpaired electrons that are shooting around making a mess.
There are many free-radical, neutralizing antioxidants that can help asthmatics. Some of the best ones include Vitamin C, Magnesium, Vitamin D3, Vitamin E, Selenium and CoQ10. Lyle MacWilliam of NutriSearch has compiled a database of over 220 published, scientific articles that show the positive links between various antioxidants and stress related illness such as asthma.
Unfortunately, treatment is not keeping pace with the new scientific research. Even though we know that high-quality antioxidants can help asthmatics, the medical community still focuses on drugs as the primary way to treat asthma. Western medicine is based on pharmaceuticals and most drug benefit plans reimburse drugs not nutritional supplements.
We have to take matters into our own hands. We can no longer sit around and wait for western medicine to solve the stress related illness crisis. Asthmatics need antioxidants and I know this because I am one. In 2002, I had to call an ambulance for myself in the middle of the night because I couldn’t get air and in 2005, I broke a rib from all the extreme coughing. Then I got serious about reducing inflammation and about properly using antioxidants to fight this stress related illness and I have now been asthma free and drug free for almost 2 years.